There is no other way to begin this column but to pay tribute to the innocent victims of the horrific act of violence that occurred early Sunday morning in Orlando, Florida, USA. Forty-nine people lost their lives and another 50 were injured when a man opened fire on a nightclub. My heart goes out to the victim's families and loved ones, as well as everyone else that is struggling to find peace and comfort. Personally, I’ve found a need to step back from the various news outlets and social media venues, as so many of the news articles and social media conversations seek to further polarize rather than unite our society.
However, a blog post by Billy Shore (founder and executive director of Share Our Strength and chair of Community Wealth Ventures) really struck a chord. In “Bearing Witness: Orlando and the Imperative of Rededicating Ourselves to Mission and Humanity” (http://billybearingwitness.blogspot.com/2016/06/orlando-and-imperative-of-rededicating.html?platform=hootsuite), Shore notes that many leaders feel that their own efforts are “almost trivial or irrelevant in the context of what has happened.” However, he encourages us to “rededicate ourselves to our mission and to humanity.” Shore references a speech by Robert F. Kennedy (http://tinyurl.com/mxhstby), given the day after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. in which Kennedy addresses not only violence involving bloodshed, but “another kind of violence, slower but just as deadly, destructive as the shot or the bomb in the night. This is the violence of institutions; indifference and inaction and slow decay. This is the violence that afflicts the poor, that poisons relations between men because their skin has different colors. This is a slow destruction of a child by hunger, and schools without books and homes without heat in the winter.”
While horrific acts of violence involving bloodshed such as the Orlando nightclub shooting can create an overwhelming sense of helplessness and hopelessness, it’s important for us to remember that our work as community problem solvers, peacemakers, and capacity builders serves an important purpose as our world continues to work towards unity, tolerance, and peace. Let’s rededicate ourselves to our mission and to humanity.
May we all find peace.